Aloeswood groups

There’s been some activity in our Ask the ORS thread lately regarding beginning areas to start a Japanese incense collection, which is something we’ve been intending to document on its own page for a while. In replying, I did sort of a basic breakdown of different aloeswood incense styles and thought I’d bring that part of the post over here for discussion in order to eventually make something like this as part of a basic starter document:

Sweet aloeswoods: Tennendo Renzan, Tennendo Kahin-Gold, Baieido Ensei Sweet Aloeswood, Kyukyodo Shiun, Baieido Kun Sho, Baieido Syukohkoku, Shunkohdo Zuika (maybe), Kunmeido Reiryo Koh Aloeswood, Nippon Kodo Jinko Juzan, Shoyeido Sei-fu, Baieido Kunsho Koh (maybe), Gyokushodo Jinko Hoen, Nippon Kodo Kohden Sweet Aloeswood, Nippon Kodo Zuiun, Seijudo Shiragiku
Spicy aloeswoods: Tennendo Kuukai, Tennendo Tensei, Tennendo Johin-Bronze, Baieido Ensei Spicy Aloeswood, Baieido Koh En, Baieido Tokusen Syukohkoku, Gyokushodo Jinko Yomei, Gyokushodo Samei Koh, Nippon Kodo Kohden Spicy Aloeswood, Shoyeido Shun-Yo
Green aloeswoods: Shunkohdo Yoshino No Haru, Kunmeido Heian Koh, Kunmeido Asuka, Shoyeido Ga Ho, Shoyeido Kyojiman, Shoyeido Misho, Shoyeido Horin Gen-roku, Tennendo Shorin (maybe)
Floral aloeswoods: Shunkohdo Haru No Kaori, Kyukyodo Asuza
Spikenard aloeswoods: Shoyeido Nan Kun, Shoyeido Horin Muro-machi, Tennendo Enkuu-Horizon (maybe)
Blends: Baieido Kai Un Koh, Baieido Tokusen Kobunboku, Baieido Kaden Kobunboku, Baieido Tobiume, Shunkohdo Ka Cho Fu Getsu, Tennendo Karafune Yuhin-Silver



  1. Jim said,

    July 10, 2013 at 9:19 am

    bumping an old thread hoping to find something akin to the discontinued morning star aloes-wood. regardless of it’s “coolness” factor it has been used exclusively in my home and school for many years. we always stocked many boxes and i am now running short only to find it discontinued. thank you in advance for any help finding a substitute

    • Mike said,

      July 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      I’d try one of the other NK aloeswoods like Mainichi Koh Kyara Deluxe (it is very inexpensive despite the name) or the Kangetsu, provided they’re not also deleted. I always thought NK kind of had their own signature aloeswood scent and that you could find it in most if not all their scents. The Kohdens are a bit more expensive but might be worth trying also.

    • Scott said,

      July 10, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Hi! As you can see in the older comments here I really like the Morning Star Aloeswood too! The closest I have found to it is Nippon Kodo’s Jinkoh Juzan. Another aloeswood I am quite fond of is Baieido’s Tobiume. If you do find something close to the Morning Star, please post it here. Good luck!

  2. Pinjie said,

    April 19, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Janet’s picks are great! Ohjya Koh, Shun-yo, Jinkoh Hoen, and Saimei Koh are all very intuitive picks based on your description, but as Janet said none of them is cheap.

    Other than Enmei and Reiryo Koh Aloeswood, you might also want to check out Tobiume, Syukohkoku, Jinsoku Koh, Haku-un, and Seifu (a little more expensive). They are not like Morning Star Aloeswood either, but are all friendly and satisfying.

    Morning Star Aloeswood is the best Morning Star! I just tried it and I can see why you like it. Good spotting! It’s woody, and does not have any of the yukky perfume that some other Morning Stars have. I’m very glad I found the MS Aloeswood a new home!

    • Pinjie said,

      April 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm

      Sorry, this comment and the previous one should have gone under Julie’s comment.

  3. Pinjie said,

    April 19, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Hi, Julie,

    I have that big blue box of NK aloeswood that is headed for the garbage. Sorry for saying that but I really don’t like it and it would make me happy to not have to throw it away and be able to give it to someone who likes it. Mike has my email address. I guess we’d have to bother him again, so that you can send your address to me.


    • Julie said,

      April 20, 2010 at 2:55 pm

      Thank you Pinjie!! I would love that 😀

      • Julie said,

        April 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm

        Ok, sent Mike an email exchange request 🙂 Thanks again!

        • glennjf said,

          June 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm

          Hi Julie,

          No matter I’m around the other side of the planet (Australia), I was reading recently you’re liking for the (discontinued) Nippon Kodo, Morning Star Gold, Classic Aloeswood.

          I wanted to let you know that I’ve located found a couple of boxes of this one presently leading quiet unassuming lives in the rural countryside near to where I live. They’re all 30 sticks per box type so, if you’re still about OR if you’re reading this comment Pinjie and you’re able to alert Julie to this comment that would be a great help.

          If you’re reading this now Julie and have not yet heard from Pinjie do email Mikeand request him to supply you with my email address so we can get intouch.

          • glennjf said,

            July 16, 2010 at 11:50 pm

            Mike, would you mind passing my email details along to Pinjie please as I’m seeking contact with her.

            • Mike said,

              July 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

              I’ll need Pinjie to post here or send me an e-mail.

              • glennjf said,

                July 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm

                No worries…

          • Julie said,

            July 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm

            Hi Glennjf,
            So sorry I didn’t see this before now. I actually have a ton of that incense, so don’t need any more. Thank you so much for thinking of me though, and for your kindness.
            All the best,

            • glennjf said,

              July 19, 2010 at 2:46 pm

              You’re very welcome Julie,

              • Scott said,

                November 29, 2011 at 2:47 am

                Well I’d be interested in any Nippon Kodo Morning Star Aloes Wood that you have available, if Mike will pass on my email request – and thanks to you all!

              • glennjf said,

                November 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm

                Might seem a strange suggestion, a strange comparison, but, there is something, a note that can be found in Yamada-Matsu Karaku Sandalwood that surprisingly enough might satisfy your scent desire.
                Check out Japan Incense in San Francisco…

                Otherwise Scott it’s not good news. I visited the source a week ago I’m sorry but the Nippon Kodo Morning Star Aloes Wood has long since left the building.

                • Scott said,

                  December 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm

                  Well I really thank you for the suggestion and the link glennjf! I will try the Yamada-Matsu on my next order! Thank you for trying to find the aloeswood too. I did luck out with one store that had seventeen of the 50-stick boxes of Morning Star Aloeswood, so that will help.

                  One unpleasant discovery I recently made was that Morning Star also changed the formula of their brown-box Patchouli incense – it used to be an aloeswood scent with a wonderful salty briny top (I still have some of that version). Now it is in a yellowish box and smells like a bad flowery perfume. Luckily thanks to information from this site I have Chabana Aloeswood and Tobiume as vastly improved substitutes…

  4. Tio said,

    March 25, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Tough challenge what with so much overlap (for instance, Shiun has both floral and sweet herbal elements right up front).
    I’m burning Gyokushodo Jinko Kojurin right now, and find it to be a “sultry aloeswood”, a “mysterious aloeswood”. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation, Mike.

    • Mike said,

      March 26, 2010 at 11:15 am

      Glad you liked it. I think of sulty and musky together quite often myself, outside of the Tibetans. Anyway, in terms of this sort of schematic for sure the map isn’t the territory, it’s just kind of one view of it .

  5. Alex said,

    March 16, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    This is pretty cool, thanks! I’ve always thought of Tensei as more of a sweet-woody incense myself, as well as Jinko Yomei (though I only had a sample of the latter and there was definitely some spicyness going on in there too).

    Are there any others you’d classify as floral aloeswoods?

    • Mike said,

      March 23, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Hi Alex, I would have to think about that. I know Baieido used to have a Kokonoe variant with aloeswood that might have fit in. There are probably a few of the more obscure Shoyeidos in the Genji line that could be classified as such, but since they’re usually in samplers it’s hard to remember any specific names (not to mention some of them aren’t even given English names or transliterations). For the category I was thinking something with a floral scent that has a background of aloeswood rather than the wood being up front with floral hints of which there are a lot more.

      • Alex said,

        March 30, 2010 at 8:11 am

        Yeah, one of the reasons I liked Haru no Kaori so much was that it seemed to find a great balance between the two, so that there was a substantial floral presence but not so much that it made the wood take second seat. It really does a nice job of matching the two up so that it is much more than the sum of its two parts. It’ll definitely be on my next order, whenever I’ll be able to put one in.

  6. Beverly said,

    March 15, 2010 at 11:57 am

    This is great! This information will be extremely helpful for me, as I am new to higher-end Japanese incense and want to explore incense with aloeswood. And I love the way you categorized it!

  7. Mike said,

    March 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Janet, I forgot to bring over my statement about Indonesian and Thai Baieidos as I think they’re a little tougher to classify and that would cover the Kokonoe and Horyu Koh, but nonetheless I was thinking the latter might be a sweet one myself. I agree on Kokonoe Koh, just completely forgot about that one. Yozei I haven’t sampled enough to have put it in anywhere and was thinking spicy so perhaps a good move to hold back lol. Houshou I’d make a blend, there’s just too much sandalwood in it to think of it as an aloeswood in my book. Chabana – check, agree (although this one I’d skipped because it’s also very green tea). Ranjatai is one I find difficult to classify anywhere. Ryunhinko I almost added as a dry aloeswood, but in the end I think there’s enough sandalwood in there for it to be more of a blend. En-Mei I would think of more as a patchouli incense although perhaps that could fit with the greens too, there is indeed enough aloeswood to be noticeable. I haven’t sampled Matsu and Ohyja in a while to remember them, but this is a good reminder to do so. But my guess is they’re also more blendy than aloeswood heavy. Thanks!

    • janet said,

      March 15, 2010 at 4:05 pm

      Well, you notice all the question marks, Mike….
      Yozei I haven’t tried in awhile, so you may very well be right on that, I’ll have to give it a go tonight!
      Does Houshou really have a lot of sandalwood? I didn’t know…..
      Also, I guess I left Minorien Sandalwood out of the Old Mountain when I was throwing things out for Michael, and there is that Aloeswood as well.

      • janet said,

        March 15, 2010 at 4:12 pm

        Ooooh! And the Yamada matsus!

  8. Janet said,

    March 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Sorry, missed that Kunsho koh was on there! How about Ho Ryu and Kokonoe (sweet?)…I don’t know where they would go, although i probably missed them, too, my contacts are really messed up today.
    There are some that I think of as primarily as woody or dry, without a lot of sweetness or spiciness, but that is mostly just where I stick them in my head…that’s why I was a little confused about, say, the Ryuhinko.
    Where would you count En-mei, Matsu-No-Tomo and Ohjiya Koh, which I know you just discussed elsewhere?

  9. Janet said,

    March 15, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Sone additions might be:
    Kokonoe Koh under spicy…
    Houshou, Jinko Yozei, and Chabana under sweet.
    Ranjatai, too. Horyu Koh, too? I’m not sure about Kunsho Koh…
    Ryuhinko under… I’m a little confused about whether that is based solely on color, or on scent characteristics.
    And Keiunko is another of those.

    You can probably tell I’m just throwing things out on my lunch break – kudos to Michael for introducing the topic again, and to Mike for tackling it!

    • Julie said,

      April 19, 2010 at 3:31 am

      Janet, you’ve given me good advice with scents before. Shino-nome is now hands down my favorite incense 🙂 I’m going to have to buy another roll soon.
      I know it is horribly uncool to like morning star incense, but I have the aloeswood by them and really like it. I would like to try a cheap aloeswood by someone else, as I don’t think morning star makes the kind I have anymore (it was a big box for cheap). Any suggestions? I like sweet benzion and sandalwood usually, although the smell I’m trying to match is more firewood and curry with some smell on top that I’ve only ever smelled in this incense and don’t know how to describe it.

      • Janet said,

        April 19, 2010 at 11:58 am

        Hi, Julie….
        I’m glad Pinjie is able to help you out, because I was having a hard time thinking of ones that were at all similar to what you described (and I have never smelled the NK myself) AND was cheap, too. I was going to offer to send you some samples, and I would still be happy to do so.
        Pinjie, since you’ve smelled it, do you have any recommendations, so that Julie isn’t stranded when yours runs out?
        The ones that came to my mind when Julie mentioned wood and curry were two of the Shoyeido Premiums – Shun-koh and Ohjya-koh…..but although those are at the low end, they are far from being “cheap”, I’m afraid.
        Even Jinko Hoen, Saimei-koh, and Guiding Light, blends that have varying levels and types of spices….well, not cheap either.

        Have you tried Shoyeido’s En-mei? It’s one of my favorites, and has a warm spicy note as well as a pronounced Aloeswood scent and some sweetness.
        Another lovely inexpensive aloeswood that has some sweetness and spice mixed in (although a different type of scent than the one you describe) is Kunmeido’s Reiryo-koh aloeswood.
        Let me know if you’d like me to shoot you some samples!

        • Julie said,

          April 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm

          I will have to be less cheap and try some of those! Thanks for the recommendations Janet!! They are expensive probably, so I won’t take any of yours, but I do really appreciate the suggestions.

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